Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden's Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with former METALLICA, VOIVOD and FLOTSAM AND JETSAM bassist and current NEWSTED frontman Jason Newsted. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metalshrine: I was listening to the four tracks [from NEWSTED's "Metal" EP] on iTunes today and reading comments all over the Internet and a word that kept coming up was "classic" and that there's a classic metal feel to the songs. How would you describe the music yourself?
Jason Newsted: It is old school. My saying is you can only be old school if you're old school, you know. You can buy a bullet belt, you can buy the tight black jeans and all those kinda things, but if you're not old school, you're not old school. It's OK if you wanna be — I've got nothing against you — but you only can be if you are, and I am. That's what it is and that's why I named it ["Metal"], because of the other music that I've played over time. All the diversity of the players, I don't wanna make any confusion and I don't want anybody to not know what's happening. This is NEWSTED and it's me and this is metal. There is no other thing that this is. This is metal! Any language that you speak around the world, you know those two words. If you like hard rock music, you know the word "Newsted" and you know the word "metal," so that's what I did and that's kinda how it is now. I'm the only guy that walks the earth that was in METALLICA and I'm still breathing and now I'm a fan again. I was a fan when I was in it and I'm a fan again, so I'm the only one. [laughs] I can really look at it in a really kinda crazy perspective. I think that in [the NEWSTED song] "Soldierhead", some of the lyrics sounds like [James] Hetfield on "Kill 'Em All". When he was just a young man of 19 years old and that's where his voice box had developed to, it was that voice. Just that little thing like that and my voice box is young in this style of real singing. I can do the brutal stuff and I don't have to prove that to anybody either and I've done that for years and I still can, but that's not what I do in this band. In this band I sing and I've been developing my voice for 20 years, but I never got a chance to really sing with it. Now it's a development and it's a young voice and younger than I am because I've only been using this voice for a short time. That's why it kinda sounds like a younger Hetfield, I think. I think it does sound like some lyrics are reminiscent of old METALLICA.
Metalshrine: I was gonna ask you about the live thing. Any plans at all? Are you playing live this coming summer when everything is out or what's the plan?
Jason Newsted: That is the plan right now. As you can imagine, there's quite a few agents and promoters coming out the wood work the last three days since the music got out. I am trying to make the right judgment and I think I've found the right people and their plans are to follow through with the songs I talked about and do some warm-up shows, do some couple of special ones in the States and then do proper festival stuff for the summer, a European thing. I'll take it to any place I possibly can take it and if they set me up with shows in the middle of wherever and as long as they've got power… I don't have to do this. I mean, that's kinda obvious. I do anything because I love it and I makes me feel alive and I do it because I wanna do it and it's my purpose and it's what I do best, so I just wanna try it one more time. The thing with METALLICA, that we talked about at the beginning of this conversation, the catalyst of that was from that and for myself I have to give it one good shot. I have to give it one solid strong effort where I know I did my best and I tried to cover all the bases and I was honest with the fans again. All that stuff, and whatever it does is whatever it does. I do not have lofty expectations of this, I do not have any of that kinda thing. I've got a cool-ass CD to play in my truck and it crushes. Anything after that is gravy. If people wanna buy it, if people wanna buy a t-shirt? Cool, man! My boys and I made some cool music and that's good enough for me because I don't have to go out and sell a bunch of records to eat. I played bass on the "Black album" and I don't think I have to say much more. I'll be fine. [laughs]
Metalshrine: Let's just say that Rob Trujillo [current METALLICA bassist] breaks his leg and they're about to go on tour and they call you [to fill in]. Would you do it?
Jason Newsted: Aahhh, it kinda depends on the circumstances. God, I haven't been asked that before. [sighs deeply] If they were cool and they were bros. Actually, here's the word, if they were "brofessional" about it and if they came as my brothers and they were professional with the meeting and they called the meeting and they're sitting there and looking me in the eye and the managers aren't around and we're doing this as we used to do every-fucking-thing, with just us, and then the managers did what we told them to do… if it was like that again and the money was crazy, then I would consider it. I would consider it, but it would be only for that thing and it would to be absolutely delegated and it would have to be these 30 shows in these 45 days for this squillion dollars, then I would say, most likely I would come and crush every fucker in my sight. But it has to be that. I love those guys and I always will and I will defend them to the end of time. I don't dig it when people talk shit about them and I don't dig it when they put them down about certain music they didn't like that they did or whatever. Fuck those people! As soon as the people can put out a better album than METALLICA, you let me know and I'll listen to it, but until that time, just back off! I don't come and tell you how shitty you're doing your accountant job or whatever, you know what I mean?! I don't like that part, but I'll always have respect for those guys, because they gave me my chance, OK. They gave me my chance and I'll never ever forget that. Now, we've had our differences over time but that shit is under the bridge a long time ago. The shit that has transpired in the last 10 years of the rumors stuff and, "Oh, Jason got treated so bad. Poor fucking Jason," and everything, it's such shit! It's so wrong and it's not the truth and it really bothers me. I understand that it gets sensationalized and blah, blah, blah. What I try to say man is trainloads, trainloads of joy, accomplishments and wonderful experiences and one little, tiny fucking symbol full of shit. It was joyous and victorious and accomplishing things and setting the fucking standard, you know what I mean? People go, "Oh, he got treated bad and he got hazed those first couple of times." No shit! You think they're just gonna let any fucker come into the biggest band in the world? Hello! And people go, "Oh, he was just a fanboy that got lucky." But could you maybe tell me one of the 52 people that auditioned that wasn't a METALLICA fan? The 52 that tried out for bass that wasn't a METALLICA fan? If you could find one in that bunch, I'd like to meet him. But any of those people that would've gotten the gig would've been a fan, too. Come around to your senses, man! They had a big thing going and they knew they had a big thing going and they just lost their great teacher and friend [late METALLICA bassist Cliff Burton], the guy that taught James how to play guitar harmonies. Do I need to say more? Come on! he taught him to play the guitar shit that he does now that made the magic of all the songs. The guy was just taken away from them and they throw some other guy in some 25 days later and it's, like, "Oh, yeah! Let's just be peachy and everything and here we go!" Come on, man! If I was in their shoes, I would've greased me a lot more than they did. People need to really get some perspective on that.
Read the entire interview from Metalshrine.